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Old 08-16-2011, 11:05 AM   #1
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Help with torch down MB.


Good morning all and Thank you for all the recommendations posted in this site. I've read many posts about flat roofing and follow many recommendations, which I take very seriously.

I understand the risks of construction in general and torch down particularly, and thanks to this site, I found the necessary rules to follow in order to be as safe as any other worker in the field. I practice the precautions to the extreme and use only one helper who is daily trained on what the day job will be and ask for any input that will make him fill safer in the job.

I own a property in the Great Lakes Area of Northern Ontario, Canada. Weather is extreme but very enjoyable.

The building dates from 1912, poured concrete bases and wood frame with brick veneer. Position of the building is frontage to the North/Northeast, back to the South/Southwest and sides to West and East. Most severe weather, from Norht-Northwest and West. The main roof section is 50' frontage x 80' in length with two additions, one on the front and one on the back, 50' x 25.

The section I am working on is the central one, 50 x 80. It has a pitched roof structure with a hip and two valleys with a one drainage on the east end of each valley, totalling two drains. Drain strainer is 4" diameter, industrial/commercial cast iron drain.

After some disappointments with contractors and repairs, and two years fighting cancer, I decided to take control of the torch, the hard hat, the flat shoes, the two extinguishers and the welding gloves.

I got the best price for 60 squares of granulated MB from a roof supplier in Hammond, Indiana. I drove there, pick up the material a happily drove back to my parking lot without incidents and few thousand dollars lighter in my bank account, but happy like dog with two tails.

I got the material lifter to the roof, divided the loads as even as possible, without incident.

Obtained a building/work permit from the local Municipality.

I'm just laying a BM granulated cap sheet on top of a mix of membranes and one third of this section I'm working on which has a very well done job of flat torch down, thick membrane with a base sheet attached to the wood with moped tar.

I'm not using any materials to cover the old membrane, not insulation or base sheet, just burn the cap sheet on top.

Started to burn the rubber, which is not as easy as the pros are showing in youtube... they show flat roofs and I have a 3 to 5 in 10 pitched roof; you can walk on it, but as soon as I started burning the second roll I realized the pros didn't tell everything they know.

Everything went quite well. With exception of one drain strainer and that's the reason of my question.

Was water underneath the cap sheet, between the membrane and whatever was underneath. Made a 14" long cut to the membrane, in the seam, to drain the water, remove water with rugs and left the area as dry as possible. Removed drain ring. Welded a patch of membrane 4' long, full width on top of strainer with full adherence to old membrane, then adhere the cap sheet on top, cut the hole, fish the bolts, insert the ring previously embedded in tar, lay more tar on the membrane, fish the bolts threads and adjust everything back. The ring is reinstalled.

Went two days later to work, Monday, as it was a very light rain over the weekend, but didn't even washed the roof; and I found a blister around the drain bucket/strainer/ring . The blister seats at the bottom of the valley, about 12" wide and 4' long, narrow as it goes up to the top of the valley and wider and higher when reaching the drain .

Now, I've burned all the books and found no solution.

What do I do, wait and see the blister grow ?

Will the blister go down for itself?

I presume the water was trapped underneath the whole section of the roof which drains in this valley, I would say, easily, a 40' x 60' section relying on this valley and drain.

Should I remove everything and start from scratch around the drain in an area of said, 8' x 8', in order to cover the blister and the surrounding area?

Can I just make a "T" or "H" cut to drain, lift the material, dry mop, carefully heat and dry and reattach the parts and then cover it with a patch and reinstall the drain?

A recommendation I follow the most, I use a laser thermometer to check the area and we shut off the torch and lower the propane tanks one hour before we walk the later down.

Sorry for the long post and You'll realize, English is not my first language and whatever I speak, write and read I owed to my capacity to work and the people I worked with, because I did not have time to go to school to learn a language, I had a family to feed.

Note: I've upload a picture of the valley I'm referring to, the drain ring is on the middle right side of the picture. The view is prior to any work done, and the clear membrane in the valley is a material we've paid a pros company to do the patching, while the rest is the new rolls laid flat on the roof. Have more pictures, but none of the blister... because as soon as I could see it , I started running, didn't have time for pictures .

Finally: Please accept my apologies if I'm posting this in the wrong forum, and I kindly request that you move it to the proper area of the chatroom.

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Last edited by supperman; 09-03-2011 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:43 PM   #2
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Help with torch down MB.


You drove to hammaond indiana and picked up the materials at best price? Did you factor in your time and gas in that "best price"? I can't see how you would have saved anything vs shopping locally. based on this one singular sentance I am now assuming the reason you have had poor experience with roofs is that you have been basing your buying decisions solely on price. WHAT WOULD YOU EXPECT TO GET BUYIGN CHEAP?

BTW was the supplier "Rays Roofing"? If so, LOL BTW Do you know what "seconds" are?


Mix of membranes?! What if one of those membranes is not torch compatible?!

You are NOT NOT burning rubber. You are burning asphalt. Modified bitumen is NOT rubber. yes it is harder than it looks which is why I never ever recommend torch work to a DIY.

Did you remove the drain ring and reclamp after torching the new membrane?

The blister will not go down. It will need to be cut, resealed and patched.


Should have bought a roofing dvd first. It woulda cost you the same as one of those rolls, but would have probably saved you a few rolls in waste and time re-doing things.

If you installed a roof over a saturated roof, well, doing it twice always costs more. Now the roofing contractor will have to charge you for another layer of tear off. never install a new roof over a wet roof.

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The information found in this post is not to be considered legal advice. All information should be considered relative, not specific. Never attempt any repairs you are not comfortable with. Always maintain safety! The author of this post takes no responsibility for any losses that occur. Use at your own risk.
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:41 PM   #3
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Help with torch down MB.


Thank you for your heads up.

Yes Mister, I know the difference of a second.

Do you know that cleaning products come in three price lists? All the same size, brand, color, container, but they make a difference in your budget.

I read the rules and this is a forum where you can gather information about your problem, but is not to complain about the products I do not like, therefore, I have not idea who the supplier was, but they did meet my budgetary limitations.

If you are kind to read on, at the end, I will tell you why I did resource to a slightly diminished quality material instead of paying full price for a superior, locally produced, approved, tested, inspected and warrantied rubber.

There is no contractor that will put a nail in my properties, other than the ones needed, like HVAC, Electrical, Elevators and Boilers inspectors.

Roofers are not professionals, are trades people who focus their expertise in one area of construction and they should be prised for it. There are not qualified workmanship in Northern Ontario, that's why you call tenders and unfortunately a qualified workmanship became economically close to impossible.

Anyone here can became a roofer as long as sh/he can enroll in a training period with the Roofers Association.

Eventually to operate a torch you need to pass a skill test and not and IQ evaluation.

Get that under your skin, Mister.

You will not get a dog to develop all his instincts if you hit him with the stick, teach him on how to develop the skills he was born with.

Encourage him to go for it, because he can!

Teach him on how to know the safe ways to obtain a goal!

Cheer him loudly and encourage him effusively!

Don't behave like a looser reprimending, offending and talking to your dog in public. The dog will not understand you, because you forgot to teach him how to do good, because good make you fill good and bad make you fill a looser.

Said that, I will extract the positive of your advice, which I highly appreciate.

Tell me, if you can and you are allowed to, where can I find a DVD on roofing and if you are the one selling them, just tell me how do I pay for it and mailed to me. I do have properties in MI.

The materials I will be using as substrate (the old roofing material) is all compatible. I, Supperman guarantee it!

Mister Grump, then, you suggest that I let the roof settle and no further my mistakes. Basically, let the roof dry, as most of the infiltrations are covered and continue with the covering once the roof is dry and all blister are taken care off.

I hope to hit you in the good day, and get a "may be" from you.

Yes, I will cut the blister, remove the material till the bare bones, fill with scrap (well I will cut in pieces some of those rolls I drove home from IN) strips, and the cloths and shoes of some experienced roofing salesman ; then torch a whole piece of brand new fresh material.

I can take that!

I couldn't attach the picture because of the size of it, but I got a handy pair of scissors, chopped it around and added to my message, I hope you have a minute to look at it.

Yes, you are right, I am not burning membrane, but let me tell you something. I get so much into this thing of roofing, that I went and got a brand new truck, a 40' and a 24' extension later and two 24' werner planks, then installed a $ 1500 later rack on the truck and go around town carrying all that weight in aluminum on top of the truck, plus I got all dirty with tar and spent three days under the sun, even when I am a survivor of skin cancer also.

That's call motivation!

Now, two things: Fisrt, I have plans for my property as I am working out something with a developer, but I need it to pay the utilities year round and should have a dry roof to be rented out. My project will plant a brand new commercial two story building for 2018 at the most, therefore, I need something that will scare the water away for five or six years. Why buy stainless steel when we have fiberglass and tar?

Second, I did call contractors to supply materials and labor for the roof. Everything went fine till I ask for the certificate of insurance and ask if the Building Department from the local Municipality was somehow involved. I got answers that I did not like, (I used to issue the tenders in the period I was an active and productive member of society, then I have an idea of what is needed to cover liabilities) and if someone is going to charge me an arm and a leg and the first born to put a dry coat of tar on the roof and run laughing to the Bank, that someone got to got something very big and kiss me before. A roofer doesn't own a 500 corporation, hardly may own a later and a trowel, not even the torch, because belongs to the rental store. If it's gonna be a fire here, I am the only one that handle out the matches in this town.

Then, I decided that I will take the chance of burning my own building and with the money that I save I will buy a larger boat that will allow me to stay one week inside the lake (instead of the two days I can stay now) without a chance to see the coast and not a need to go for foods, because I have enough room for storage for me and the four or five friends that usually enjoy shooting the breeze with me alone and from time to time, we bring some swimming creatures out the water to have fun. I don't drink, but enjoy friends and good foods.

Thank you Grump, you really give me a good advice, right to the point.

Chances are, but I will not get a roofer in, yet! And I hope I can rely in your experience and expertise.

God bless you.
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Old 08-16-2011, 11:27 PM   #4
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Help with torch down MB.


I am wondering if it is advisable the installation of a Deicing system on and around the valley in order to help the melting process. I do have an independent power supply which once was used for a large sign we had on the side of the Building. The sign and it's structure was removed, but the insulated weatherproof wire is still there on the roof and will only require to switch on the breaker in the electrical room. Structurally the building will support the weight as it has in all a base sheet, cap sheet thiner due to weather corrosion and a new cap sheet as a re roofing, but I believe if we can help the roofing system to work away the ice formation in winter, it will be worth the try.
Would any experienced person risk a suggestion?
It would be highly appreciated.
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:27 AM   #5
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Help with torch down MB.


Well I hate to tell you but you also NEEDED a roofer. A picture speaks 1,000 words.

If I were bidding that roof the ONLY answer would have been a tear off. The roof was shot, probably in excess of it's maximum layers. All you are doing is putting a lip stick on a pig. It's not going to last. I'm not trying to insult you but from what I can see, you're not doing a very good job at it either.

I don't know anything about cleaning supplies but I do know the difference from a 2nd to a first. I also know of one roofing supplier in the area of which you purchased your materials that sells nothing but seconds. I also see the membrane you installed is completely mis matched indicating it's probably scrap that was lying around. I also see color variation in the membrane indicating it's not a first. Perhaps not enough granual.

It's adviseable to call a licensed certified roofing contractor and stop throwing your time and money down the drain.

All I can say is good luck.
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Sometimes the savings that comes from doing it yourself can be blown away with one mistake.

The information found in this post is not to be considered legal advice. All information should be considered relative, not specific. Never attempt any repairs you are not comfortable with. Always maintain safety! The author of this post takes no responsibility for any losses that occur. Use at your own risk.

Last edited by Grumpy; 08-17-2011 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:54 AM   #6
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Help with torch down MB.


Thank you very much for your answer Grumpy.

I'm embarrassed, because I should have stated that the pictures are prior to laying any membrane on the roof.

There are not torched rolls in this pictures, the rolls are stretched on the roof.

I found out that blisters are not a human error, but a technical error, very common and I am relieved.

Yes, I do agree with you about the conditions of the roof as seen in the pictures, and I also agree with the three roofers who quoted on doing exactly what I am doing, but with a material that would have cost me five times what I paid for this seconds and to apply it in the same way I am applying it.

You're right, the roll on the hill/ridge is an end roll with missing aggregate, therefore I use it as a substrate/base sheet, is not seen in the picture because I did it at a later time, torched it down and it looks pretty good to me.

I will install one sheet as substrate or ridge flashing, mounted on the hill/ridge, then complete each side with the regular membrane lay out and apply another full sheet on top as ridge flashing, a sandwich of some sort.


I wouldn't go as far as telling that it looks like lipstick on a pig, because it is very hard to judge the world with one picture.

I will agree that I have a lot of room for improvement and to be modest, I will only state that I am working on the enhancement of my technique.

Out of sixty rolls I counted five defective, then I am on budget.

You did not risk an answer about a deicing system, some wires hanging there somehow? Nah? Not needed?

Then, you wouldn't suggest any deicing system up there, a couple wires hanging there to melt the ice?

No?

Thank you for your reply Grumpy.
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Old 08-17-2011, 02:18 PM   #7
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If anyone was going to lay over that roof they were not PROFESSIONAL roofers. Period. If they were licensed, their licenses should be taken away.
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Sometimes the savings that comes from doing it yourself can be blown away with one mistake.

The information found in this post is not to be considered legal advice. All information should be considered relative, not specific. Never attempt any repairs you are not comfortable with. Always maintain safety! The author of this post takes no responsibility for any losses that occur. Use at your own risk.
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Old 08-18-2011, 01:05 PM   #8
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Blisters formed because of traped moisture. No amount of rags you put in it will get rid of that moisture. Its in the material its self and needs to be removed. Please have 911 on speed dial when your doing this...
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Old 08-18-2011, 02:33 PM   #9
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Thank you for your comments 1985gt.

It's that bad, eh?

I've reading some serious work about blisters and seems like it is the most common occurrence in a flat roof.

I decided to go for what I believe is the most common procedure:

Removal of the affected area till the deck.

Clean meticulously and make sure the area is dry to the view, the sense and the instrumental.

Once the area has been exposed to two or three days of sun, that I am having ahead of me, I will:

Reinstall base sheet.

Torch down cap sheet as a patch.

Verify seams and seal seams outside to minimize water penetration.

If anyone believes there is a better solution to the problem, help is always welcome and highly appreciated.
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Old 08-18-2011, 02:44 PM   #10
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Yes that would be an ok way to patch and existing roof. You how ever are installing a "new" roof or cover over. The honest to goodness best way would be to tear the old roof off. There appers to be a number of layers already and just torching on a cap sheet is not exactly the best way to do things. I wouldnt expect to get more then a few more years out of it.
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Old 08-18-2011, 03:42 PM   #11
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Thank you for your reply.

I value your comments and I also think like you, however, I do not need to put money up there on the roof as I am only working towards a temporary solution with a life span not beyond 2015 to 2017.

My goal is to obtain a dry roof with low maintenance for the next five years as I have some plans for the land we own.

As I said, I am on budget restrains and working with very tight economical space.

I did some research in regards to blisters and I am comfortable with the conditions. Further, I was fortunate enough to have yesterday, three periods of rain of about half an hour each and could verify that 90 % of the job performed was OK, however, for some reason I had one piece of the patch covering the valley not properly welded... I presume, it was the first piece I torched in the morning early and did not stick well to the substrate, whatever. It was my mistake. The water infiltration did its work under the valley and the blisters are there, then, I'm left with two options:

First, open the blister and dry it properly along one, two or three days.

Remove the material in the valley with a width of about three rolls, 80 inches or so, and reinstall base sheet and cap sheet properly torched, will look like a patch anyhow, then apply the roof cement reinforcing the seams in order to deter the water from eroding the material.

I do not hold anyone accountable for any suggestion, I am the owner, my building is paid for, my Insurance Agent is a person I trust, I do not owe anything on my property, therefore, if someone is going to burn it, I would like to have the privilege, but as I have quite a bit of experience with fire, I will take all the precautions available, and I don't trust another person eye, I use a device by the name of thermometer, a laser been sweeping the surface that will let me know any difference in temperature. Further, I stop working with fire between 60 and 90 minutes before I come down from the roof. I know that time is peanuts for a fire, but, I do my home work.

My question to you is this:

Facing the situation I am facing now, what option would you take, remove everything or open the blisters and let them dry, then apply a full patch, end to end of the valley. I am very confident, we can remove the drain ring once again, clear everything, apply the membrane and seal the ring on top of it without any further complication.

I understand you may not like to risk an opinion and that's OK with me.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
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Old 08-18-2011, 06:43 PM   #12
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You really need to take into consideration also the weight that's on that roof.. Did it used to be flat.. Lol just kidding.
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Old 08-18-2011, 07:20 PM   #13
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Yes, it was flat at one time... before the roofers loaded it with tar and cardboard.

No kidding!

This roof had a huge glass and iron oval structure, I don't know the name they give to it in english, skylight, glass cathedral, or whatever...but the structure was about 60' in length by 30' wide. I had the chance to see some aerial pictures and there it was, a very impressive roof.

Actually if you observe in the front there is dome, very well designed and constructed, with a copper veneer and obviously was a "professional roofer" the one who added a couple coats of tar.

The building was a bodeville in 1912, it is in a border town... then you go figure the rest of it.
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:21 AM   #14
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Reporting for the experts, my work is progressing very well.

Removed the loose material deposited there for the so called "professional roofers"... to the bare bone.

Resource to plywood and pieces of membrane to level the valley... as I buy second quality membrane at a value of $ 10.00 a roll (that's one square roll), I can just cut few peaces from a roll, patch the area, and dispose the rest of the roll and still save money.

Applied a coat of tar/mastic, wet/dry tar.

Applied base sheet and affixed it with nails and washer to be on the safe side.

Now, I am in a break for lunch and will go back to the roof after 3.00 PM, at which time, I will use heat, propane torch, not goss because is a cheap tool, and affix one roll of membrane in the valley itself and work my way out of it with a parallel roll up the hip of the roof.

Something I've learned is this: The first area susceptible of failure in a roof, a torch on roof it is, is the seam. For a DIY it means that you should torch as many rolls as you can go over all the seams and secure them in the same day... check the weather, mostly if you're in an areas where rain may develop in a matter of hours.

Then, use the proper tools, certified tools, not second hand that you get from an old roofer.

Follow the safety rules.

Have minimum one and as many as you can, fire extinguishers near you.

Never, and that should be stressed, never turn off the torch and walk out the job... make sure once you turn off the propane tank, you will stay minimum, one hour around the job area.

Don't trust you sense, smell, eyes, touch... spent some 100 dollars in a laser digital thermometer and learn how to use it.

DO NOT listen to people that will discourage you, never ever. Give them the one finger salute and shovel facts down their throats.

Roofs are fixed everytime, everyday and you can only have two kind of mistakes, material and human and as the torch on roof fails on the seams, the error is human not the material.

I did it wrong, but I've learn my lesson, that's why I comeback and said what happen to me.

Check, double check, and then check again all the seams, using a scraper push underneath, do not be afraid to do that, because the weather is stronger than thousand man pushing the scraper.

Everyday, have a rest and go all over your job.

Take pictures and analyze your mistakes and learn from them.

Here, will always be someone willing to tell you how to fix your life line.

I'll be back to report the progress in my job.

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